Archive for political economy

Justin Trudeau and the Continuing Saga of Canadian Apathy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2016 by jtoddring

A recent poll shows strong support for the Trudeau government in Canada, and I have to think, once again, that it is surprising to see that Canadians can be so uncritical and unquestioning of their government.

Yes, Harper was defeated, and yes, that was a good thing. But the current government under Trudeau Jr. is deeply flawed, and criminally negligent, at best – and that is the best you can say about them.

Trudeau Jr. is still subsidizing big oil and the fossil fuel industry, still pushing for oil pipelines, still blocking serious action on the environment. And we are still waiting on serious action on the lack of safe drinking water for 120 native communities and 1,600 municipalities across the country – in one of the seven richest countries on earth, with the means to provide all Canadians more than a decent standard of living, and certainly vastly more wealth and resources than is needed to simply provide clean, safe water for all. And further, the Trudeau government has so far refused to cancel or reject a plan by Ontario Power Generation to bury radioactive waste in the Great Lakes basin, even though every radioactive waste facility ever built has leaked, and despite the fact that the Great Lakes provide drinking water to 40 million people. And all of this entails what can only be called criminal negligence in the extreme.

Beyond that, the Trudeau Liberals refuse to raise corporate taxes to reasonable levels, say, where they were in 1960, at roughly 40%: and as a result, must work with a self-inflicted short-fall of revenues, meaning that health care, education, social and environmental programs cannot be properly funded.

What this means is that the Liberal Party is no longer a liberal party, as it was up until the government of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, in the late 1970’s. For more than thirty years, the Liberal Party of Canada has been yet another party of neoliberalism, which is to say, another party run by and for big business. And central to the neoliberal, pro-corporate agenda, is austerity for the people, with giant subsidies, bail-outs, “stimulus” packages and tax breaks for the corporations and the rich. This is why we have inadequate funding for health care, education, social programs and environmental programs in Canada, as in the US and Europe, despite the fact that Canada is one of the richest countries on earth: neoliberalism and a corporate agenda have taken over – and the Trudeau Jr. government is just the latest expression of this criminal posse of neo-feudal corporatists, gouging the people to further line the pockets of the rich.

At the same time, the young Trudeau signed the TPP, which effectively spells the final death blow to Canadian sovereignty, and democracy in Canada. Few actions could express a greater or more utter incompetence, or criminality, depending on how you want to view it.

And while talking about “a principled foreign policy,” Trudeau Jr. approved the arms deal signed by Harper to ship more arms to the Saudis – the most brutal regime in the Middle East, and one of the worst human rights abusers in the world.

Saudi Arabia is also the country which is the primary arms provider and source of funds to ISIS and Al Qaeda. Principled foreign policy? This is not only criminally negligent, at best, to be sending more arms to the Saudi dictatorship; it is also a disastrous and extremely foolish policy which is guaranteed to blow back in our faces, as Saudi Arabia continues to fuel terrorism, even while it proclaims it is fighting it.

And along with arming the Saudis, Trudeau continued the bombing in Iraq and Syria, not only breaking his election promises, but violating international law, and thereby committing what are under international law, nothing less than war crimes. Yes, principled foreign policy indeed. Only now has this criminal and foolish behaviour and disastrous policy been halted – one point for which we can be glad in an otherwise dismal reign to date.

(And yes, it is a reign, when 40% of the popular vote can give you 100% of the power in government, and a four year coronation.)

And finally, Justin Trudeau promised to bring in proportional representation, to fix our quasi-democratic electoral system, and bring it into the 21st century, or even the 20th. So far, we have seen no action on this critical issue of democracy, and another Trudeau promise goes either broken, or simply ignored and abandoned.

Those were just election promises, right? Nobody takes those seriously. Well, clearly they shouldn’t when it is either the Liberal or Conservative Party in question.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May, the only political leader in the country at the federal level who deserves to be called a leader, or who has any clue as to what is going on, apparently, or any spine, or integrity, or vision to bring to bear on the issues we face, is largely ignored by both the media and the people.

Are Canadians clueless, or are we simply a people that cannot seem to shake off a long tradition of public apathy? I think the latter is the case, and I do not know what will rouse them from their slumber, or bring them to their senses.

During the recent federal election, there was a wave of political passion across the country – which is to say, as passionate as Canadians get about anything other than hockey, beer and Tim Horton’s – as we the people decided to remove a much reviled Conservative government from power. Then we all went back to sleep. Or at least the majority seem to have returned to slumber land. What does it take to get Canadians to shake off their long-standing habit of apathy and complacency? I truly do not know.

JTR,
March 2, 2016

 

US Intervention In Syria: The Next Iraq

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2016 by jtoddring

Here is a very brief synopsis of the US role in Syria. We will, for the sake of brevity,  leave aside for the moment the obvious and documented facts of the US arming and supporting of the very terrorist groups they claim to be fighting; as well as the fact that the majority of “rebels” in Syria are associated with either ISIS or Al Queda; and the the third fact, that the reason the US is arming and supporting the very groups it claims to be fighting is in order to overthrow yet another government in the Middle East. We will instead focus on the broader picture.

It is becoming clear to any who are paying attention, and any who remember even recent history, that Syria is rapidly becoming the next Iraq – a country set on fire in an unending cauldron of violence and civil war, with no resolution and no peace in sight, and nothing but a black hole and a quagmire for all involved.

After five years of war and geopolitical battles among rival powers, half a million Syrians have now been killed, the country is in ruins, and there are now over 11 million Syrian refugees, in the biggest humanitarian disaster since the war in Iraq. And we have to ask, who is to blame?

Who is to blame for the bloodbath in Syria? This seems to be the question of the hour. Tomorrow, or soon after, there will be another bloodbath, and there will be other scapegoats, and the grand game of assigning blame will turn once more, and as usual, with all the same repeating patterns. But let us ask that central question of this present moment, at this present moment: who is to blame for the turmoil and war in Syria, and the massive human suffering that is the escalating result of it?

I don’t think there is any question that many players or factions are involved in what is going on in Syria – no one seems to want to respect national sovereignty or the self-determination of peoples, much less international law, and it seems like everyone wants to coerce the Syrian people into accepting their own particular wishes and demands for what kind of government the Syrian people should have.

Among others, there is the Syrian government, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and Iraq involved. ISIS and Al Queda are of course involved, but as very knowledgeable observers have noted, they are more a symptom than the cause of the turmoil, and they are being armed and funded by other, larger powers – particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States.

And we can add to the list of parties who have involved themselves in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, Canada, Europe, Israel and Russia. But there is also no question that Washington and the CIA are playing a major and pivotal role in the war in Syria, and nobody of any sound mind doubts that, for it is obvious.

And if we look to recent historical precedents in the region, we can see a clear and obvious pattern: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya….. and that is without going further back, over the past 60 years of US foreign policy, beginning with the Washington/CIA overthrow of the democratically elected Mosaddegh government in Iran in 1957 – an extremely foolish and short-sighted, as well as criminal action, which gave birth to the extremist Islamic movements in the Middle East to begin with; or much longer, from the time of the Mexican-American war in the mid-1800’s, which Thoreau detested and wrote about, and before, from the time of the Indian Wars and the colonization of what was to become the United States of America.

The US has been a rising global super-power since the early 1800’s, until its recent decline, and one with a clear case of infantile grandiosity (the doctrines of Manifest Destiny and the like make this clear) and a self-justifying messianic complex, covering, only thinly, an obvious imperial pursuit of territorial expansion, conquest and hegemony, and of course, simple wealth and power.(See Noam Chomsky, Year 501: The Conquest Continues, for an overview of the past 500 years of Western history.)

To be fair, the US was on the right side, on the side of freedom and democracy, during WWII; and along with Canada, Britain and other nations, and most pivotally Russia, the US helped to defeat the horror of fascism. But before and since, the US has been on the wrong side of history, more often than not. And that is because the US has been ruled, from 1945 until the present, and for the better part of its history before WWII, by a political elite who have been the willing puppets and servants of big business and moneyed interests – exactly as Thomas Jefferson had warned. These are the simple, ugly facts of the matter. This can change, and it will change, when the American people are ready for it, and willing to make it happen, but at present, the US is still a dangerous rogue super-power that is ruled by Wall Street – and with truly disastrous consequences both for the American people and for the world.

And in recent history, who was the major player responsible for the utter devastation of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? The evidence is indisputable. These countries are now basket cases, and have been destroyed, and set aflame in civil wars – and it is the United States and its allies who are primarily responsible for these terrible atrocities, with well over a million dead, and nations laid to waste.

And although Washington had allies, and allies who will be recorded in history as having been actively involved in war crimes, the central player was the US government and the CIA in all three cases. The record speaks for itself.

The US government has been, and continues to be, dedicated to a policy of global hegemony, as its actions clearly and unquestionably show, and as its own internal record plainly speaks. (See documents from NSC-68 to PNAC and beyond.) And such actions are not only abominable, unconscionable, and in violation of international law, and furthermore, war crimes, under the precise definition of international law and the Nuremberg Trials; but furthermore, they create three very clear results: 1) countries are destroyed, and democracies either destroyed or prevented from arising, and with great human suffering and mass murder in every case; 2) there is inevitable blow-back, or negative repercussions, because such violent invasions and “regime changes” – that is, coups, in more honest and less euphemistic terms – create great hatred and fanaticism, and hence, more terrorism, exactly as the US intelligence community had predicted; and 3) the world becomes an ever more dangerous place as a result of such actions.

We cannot white-wash the involvement of Washington or the CIA in the Middle East, or Syria in particular. Their role has been, and continues to be, simply disastrous.

All nations have a duty to respect the sovereignty of other nations, and the right of peoples to self-determination. This basic principle, the principle of non-aggression, is the very foundation and under-pinning of international law, as well as the foundation for real and lasting peace. Currently, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Europe, Russia, and even the traditionally peace-loving Canada, along with the leading actor, the world’s dominant super-power, the United States, are all disregarding and violating these basic principles. And it is complete disaster which is the result, as all can clearly see, as well as a greatly heightened instability and danger – not just in Syria, not just across the entire Middle East, but for the world, as a conflict between super-powers looms, with Russia, China and Iran lining up on one side, and the US and its allies and proxies on the other, in an extraordinarily dangerous, and frankly insane, set of power games.

Let the madness end. The people of Syria can and will find a way to peace, and determine their own future, and what kind of government they want to have – but only if other powers in the region and in the world stop meddling and let them have the space to breath and to settle things for themselves. At present, the involvement of the US and other foreign powers is doing nothing but creating ever greater suffering and chaos, and no good will come from it.

The words of Henry David Thoreau come to mind. “If I knew someone was coming to do me some good, I should like to get as far away as possible.” I think by now, a great many people in Syria and the Middle East would like to be free of the “help” they have been receiving. Such help has been a nightmare and a horror, to say the least.

A basic respect for national sovereignty and the rule of law would be infinitely more helpful, but no one seems to be interested in that. That does not serve the underlying motives of empire fetish, and ego-maniacal, greed-driven power games.

Hands off Syria. This is the most urgent point of the matter.

If we truly want to help the Syrian people, then we should send food, emergency shelter, doctors and medical supplies, and we should take in refugees, and give shelter to those in need. Sending more arms, bullets and bombs is not going to help the situation. Indeed, it has only made the situation a thousand times worse than it already was, before our “help” arrived.

J. Todd Ring,
February 27, 2016

 

For further readings, video commentaries and analysis, see:

Noam Chomsky

Paul Craig Roberts

Michel Chossudovsky

Tulsi Gabbard

John Pilger

CounterPunch

The Real News Network

Global Research

And as a start, here is Noam Chomsky, speaking with his usual lucidity, saying clearly that if we want to halt terrorism, we have to do pretty much the complete opposite of what we’re doing now, which will only increase terrorism, not reduce it, much less end it:

http://www.actvism.org/en/events/noam-chomsky-ueber-die-terroranschlaege-in-paris/

 

 

 

 

 

Obama’s Vision and Legacy: A retrospective look at the Obama presidency – before we lose all sight of recent history, as our culture is wont to do

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by jtoddring

 

Here are three short articles which I wrote between 2011 and 2015 which sum up the Obama presidency, and the Obama vision and legacy. We should remember, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let us review now the torturous two terms of “Mister Hope and Change” – the man who escalated and consolidated the Bush-Cheney program of intensified imperial warfare abroad, and the building of a police state at home – and all with a smiling face, and lofty, pious speeches proclaiming noble, lofty things.

I must say, as an aside, that the following articles were written and posted as comments, via Discus, to certain “alternative media” sources; and they present a scathing, and justifiably, fact-based, and much-needed, scathing critique of the alternative media.

In short, the alternative media, so called, and with only a handful of exceptions, provided a gloss to Obama’s presidency, and lent cover to his high crimes and his war crimes, for the first seven years of his presidency. Only recently has a sliver of critical commentary about the Obama administration begun to flow out of these generally hollowly pretentious “news” sources.

And secondly, almost all of them failed completely with regards to honest and thoughtful reporting on the crisis in Ukraine, and instead of serious journalism, simply mouthed the standard narrative, and gave further life and credibility to the lies and propaganda that the mainstream media routinely present as “the news”.

So in short, the alternative media failed utterly and completely, with only rare exceptions on the part of a few writers and a few websites, in regards to two of the biggest geopolitical subjects of the past decade: the US presidency under Obama, and its global and domestic implications; and the growing US-Russian cold war.

Having said that, and having lost most of my trust and confidence in these media sources, The Real News Network has seriously upped its game, and I would say, from what I have seen, that it is now one of the best sources of news and analysis in the Western world.

So there is hope for the alternative media. They simply have to have the courage to admit when they were wrong, and to stand up, and speak the truth, regardless of how popular or unpopular the truth may be.

And it is also helpful here for us to remember – and not just the alternative media, but also the broader public, who were, by and large, also duped by Mister Hope and Change – the words of Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Let us be willing to admit when we were mistaken, and learn from our mistakes, and let us learn from our history, before we are doomed to repeat it yet again.

*

We should also note that Obama’s legacy includes, not only expanded imperial wars overseas, and an accelerated pace of the Bush-Cheney project of turning America into a police state, but also under Obama, we saw the crash of 2008, from which the US and the world in general have yet to recover. (See Paul Craig Roberts: There Was No Recovery, and There Will Be No Recovery.)

The warm and fuzzy propaganda and spin continues to stream out of the White House and the corporate media, telling us everything is rosy, but the figures speak for themselves, and tell a different story. The middle class is being driven under and is sinking, and shrinking, and as a result, consumer spending is crashing, which means that the global economy continues to sink. It’s not rocket science. A 10 year old could understand it. It just requires a willingness to deal with the facts, and that seems rare these days.

The middle class is being wiped out, while poverty and inequality soar, and only the rich are doing well – extremely well, in fact. This is another part of Obama’s legacy – he presided over the continued and accelerating process of the rich devouring the poor, the middle class and the world. And most critically, he acted as the lead PR man to cover over and hide what is really going on, and tell us that everything is fine, while the people and the planet continue to be eaten alive. I think he should sell snake oil. It would be a more honest job.

“In order to have a thriving middle class, we need good paying middle class jobs.  Unfortunately, our economy has been bleeding those kinds of jobs quite rapidly.  For example, Halliburton just announced that it is eliminating 5,000 more jobs after getting rid of 4,000 workers at the end of last year.

During the Obama years, good paying middle class jobs have been getting replaced by low paying service jobs.  At this point, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

And there is no way that you can support a middle class family with children on $30,000 a year.

We have an economy that is in the process of failing.  We can see it in the explosion of subprime auto loans that are going bad, we can see it in the hundreds of retail stores that are shutting down, and we can see it in the tens of thousands of good paying energy jobs that are being lost.

During the Obama years, interest rates have been pushed to the floor, the Federal Reserve has created trillions of dollars out of thin air, and the size of our national debt is getting close to doubling.  Despite all of those desperate measures, our economy continues to crumble.”

– Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores
By Michael Snyder, February 25, 2016

Hallelujah. Praise be to the profits.

And let them eat cake.

JTR,
February 25, 2016

 

Obama’s brilliantly successful, and disastrous vision

A recent article by Andrew Bacevitch
which was published by Moyers and Company laments that Obama has
failed to accomplish anything of substance since taking office. This
is not true. Obama has continue the Bush-Cheney war on democracy,
freedom, civil liberties, human rights, the Bill of Rights and
Constitution at home, while carrying on with the noble work begun by
the Bush administration of creating a police state in America; thus,
hopefully, securing the wealth and power of the elite at the expense
of the great suffering and diminished wealth, security, dignity,
rights and freedom of the other 99% of the population. So yes, Obama
has accomplished a great deal. He simply accomplished all the wrong
things. And he did so, because he was working for the wrong people.
He has been working for Wall Street since the beginning. The people
simply failed to see it.

The article is excellent, but for this
point, and one other important point. The author states that Obama
has no foreign policy vision, and never did. That is untrue.

Obama inherited and fully embraced the
foreign policy vision of the neocon Project for a New American
Century and the Bush-Cheney cabal: that is, intensified imperial
warfare abroad for the sake of maintaining global hegemony in a time
of an empire in rapid decline – and, of course, for the ever-present
ultimate objective, which is ever higher corporate profits and wealth
for the super-rich, ruling elite.

So Obama has a vision – it’s just not a
vision which accords with the great majority of Americans, or people
anywhere in the world. But it is a vision which is favoured, and
fiercely, rabidly, aggressively pursued, by the foreign and domestic
elite who rule over Washington and decide its policy choices and
agenda.

Has Obama’s vision succeeded? Well, the
rich are richer, aren’t they? Corporate profits are high. Trillions
of dollars have flowed from Main Street to Wall Street, via the US
government and the US Treasury. And the billionaire class now has an
even more formidable military-industrial-security complex, and police
state apparatus, with which to protect itself from the rabble. Obama
has succeeded brilliantly, at least for the moment – he simply had
the wrong vision: and for that, we should all lament deeply. The
people were duped.

J. Todd Ring,

February 7, 2015

Discussion on Chris Floyd – Empire Burlesque 26 comments

 

And here is my response to another article from the “alternative media” which also helped to give Obama a fresh gloss and a patina of legitimacy:

New Obama Campaign Commercial Is BRUTAL!

prajnaseek

prajnaseek 4 years ago (2012)

The amazing shelf-life of Obamamania:

Half rotted, to say the least; made as appealing as possible by a dedicated PR
machine;
and now highly distasteful to a growing majority –
yet still being hocked by “progressive” media outlets nation-wide.
What gives?!

I am increasingly amazed that otherwise thoughtful, well-informed and
intelligent individuals and media outlets such as AlterNet, who seem to have
both brains and integrity, continue to support Obama. Do we have to recount his
record of actions over and over again? He presented himself – with the aid of a
powerful, multi-million dollar PR machine – as a populist, a democrat, a man of
peace, and a man of the people. I warned people before he was elected in 2008 that he
was none of the above, but merely another shill for Wall Street. His actions since
his election have proven this is in fact the case, and proven it abundantly, beyond
any shadow of a doubt. Shall we at least glance at the record? Do the facts
matter, or are we utterly swayed and won over – deluded – by the mesmerizing
powers of rhetoric, spin and pretty speeches? Do the facts matter or not?

A populist? Obama was put into office through the major backing of Wall Street,
then of course, returned the favour – “donations” from the reigning
plutocratic elite do not come free, nor without strings attached, as David
Sirota said of Obama and his backers: returned the favour by stacking his
government with his Wall Street buddies, and then handed over hundreds of
billions of tax payer dollars to his Wall Street banker friends, as part of the
greatest mass transfer of wealth from the American people to the financial
elite in history. To cap it all off, he aggressively pushed for legislation
that would permanently make his Wall Street criminal friends immune from any
future prosecution or legal action. (See Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibi for an
honest accounting of Obama.) Populist? No, Obama is Wall Street’s man – or one
of them. He is no friend of the people.

Democrat? Obama voted twice for the Constitution-, Bill of Rights- and
civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act; the second time, voting to make 14 of
its provisions permanent. He has done nothing to overturn the quite literally –
by any legal definition – fascist legislation brought in by Bush, and has in
fact greatly extended and increased it. The Military Commissions Act has not
been overturned, and Obama has not even attempted to do so, and this act alone
defines the United States now, in strict legal terms, as a fascist nation. (See
Keith Olbermann on the Military Commissions Act, for an honest and unflinching
assessment – and remember, Obama has continued to support it since Bush left office.)
Under the NDAA, which Obama also signed, the President, or Chief Executive
Officer on hire to the ruling financial elite who own the country, can now
imprison anyone indefinitely, and has sweeping unchecked powers beyond that,
including execution or assassination without trial. (Obama even brags of his
ability to kill anyone with his fleet of killer drones.) These legal undoings
of constitutional democracy, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and civil
liberties, along with the extreme and unchecked powers now aggregated to the
executive, by any reasonable or legal definition constitute fascism, and Obama
has supported and furthered this slow strangulation of democracy, freedom and
civil liberties, every step of the way. He has defended the use of
“extraordinary rendition,” CIA black sites, torture and
disappearances, systemic wire-tapping and a global surveillance state. To call
this man a democrat would be the most insane, or else Orwellian statement
possible. He is a crypto-fascist in populist liberal democratic disguise – and
the disguise is so thin by now that only the wilfully blind cannot yet see
through it.

Peace-lover? Obama made rosy speeches about vague sentiments and even more
vague goals, such as “hope” and “change,” but as the New
York Times said before his election, it was hardly likely he would change
anything in terms of foreign policy, and his foreign policy is, as the Times
predicted, virtually indistinguishable from that of Bush. In fact, his foreign
policy record has been worse than Bush’s, as Chomsky and others have pointed
out. He positioned himself as a man of peace, and then went on to expand the
wars in the Middle East, and to launch new wars in Northern Africa. He is now
sabre-rattling with relation to Iran, and gearing up the propaganda and
rhetoric for an attack on Iran, which would be utterly insane, as well as a war
crime under international law, since Iran is in a military and economic
alliance with China and Russia, two nuclear super-powers, and hence, attacking
Iran literally risks the start of WWIII. Anyone who would attack Iran under
such circumstances must therefore be certifiably insane, as well as criminally
negligent in the highest magnitude describable. But even aside from the
question of Iran, Obama is already, and again, quite literally, guilty of war
crimes, by strict definition of international law, and crimes against humanity,
as well as guilty of simply expanding and perpetuating the obscene and
bankrupting wars of empire, and continuing the multi-decade policy of
subservience and service towards the military-industrial complex. This is no
man of peace. This man is owned almost as much by the industrial-military
complex and the war-profiteers as by Wall Street.

So why are there still articles on AlterNet and other seemingly, and often
genuinely intelligent media outlets, coddling and massaging Obama’s image and
PR face, if not outright supporting him? If someone at AlterNet cares to
answer, I would love to hear the response.

It is 1931 Germany in the USA, as I have been saying for
some time, as a growing minority and possibly by now a majority of Americans
are aware, and as your better writers and commentators have also noted. Why
then does anyone still pretend that Obama is anything but a crypto-fascist
puppet on hire to the ruling corporate and financial elite? Why?!

Enough! End this nonsense now, and let’s get on with real
change, and the healing of this world.

Hope and change will come from the people. The leaders –
so-called – of both major parties have betrayed the people. Let’s face the
facts, and get on with it. Lead yourself, people. It’s time for a revolution.

J. Todd Ring
(prajnaseek on Twitter)

P.S.: AlterNet editors: If you wish to retain any
credibility as a progressive, or even an independent media outlet, then strip
out the references to AlterNet here – I don’t wish to single out AlterNet,
which is excellent in other regards, since the problem is widespread in the “progressive”
media – and publish this article. You
can contact me via Twitter to let me know your response. If it is silence, then
I will know where you stand: and if that is the case, as I hope it will not be,
then I must conclude that either you are blinkered partisan zealots, or else
are owned by the same plutocratic and oligarchic forces who own Obama. I am
sorry to put the matter so bluntly, but democracy in America is being drowned,
and Obama has been, and continues to this day, to be an active and willing
accomplice in that most heinous and grotesque of crimes. The time has long
passed for the mincing of words. I await your response. Please exercise courage
and thoughtfulness. It would be a shame to see your legitimacy and your aid die
along with all former hopes for Mister Hope and Change.

 

And one last response to yet another “alternative media” gloss of Obama:

The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power | News & Politics

prajnaseek

prajnaseek mmckinl 5 years ago (2011)

Well put – straight to the point. Here is my response to Parry’s “critique.”

Obama:pseudo-populist, crypto-fascist, corporatist, globalist

A rebuttal to Robert Parry’s glowingly pro-Democrat, slavishly partisan diatribe

Nice story line – for a fantasy novel… Excellent analysis, and totally one-sided: can anyone think critically about both wings of the party of the corporate elite – the Democrats and the Republicans? Some few can, but it seems rare.

Robert Parry’s article, “The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power” is a fair enough analysis of the Republican party machine, but it breathes not a peep of criticism of the Democratic party apparatchiks or the Obama administration, and expresses not even a whisper of critical thought with regard to the latter. We are forced to conclude that either he is a completely blinkered partisan, or else a willing tool of the ruling elite, playing the same old game of divide and conquer in order to maintain the hegemony of the ruling class. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume for the moment that his highly counter-productive “critique,” which further divides the people, thus thwarting any possibility of real change, is a product of his being simply out to lunch.

“Pseudo-populist?” What do you think Obama is? He’s also pseudo-democratic, pseudo-progressive, pseudo-anti-war , pseudo-pro-civil liberties and pseudo-constitutional, in case anybody still hadn’t noticed. He’s expanded war in the Middle East, stood up for CIA “extraordinary renditions” and torture, failed utterly to even attempt to repeal the literally fascist and
completely unconstitutional Patriot and Military Commissions Acts, and instead
continued to support them, to name but a few points showing him to be anything
but a democrat – and he backed the biggest transfer of wealth in history from
ordinary people to the super-rich with the Wall St. banker “bail-out.”

Spell it out: this is by definition a crypto-fascist corporatist. (As Mussolini himself defined fascism, it is the merger of the powers of big business with the powers of the state: it is corporatism.) Just
how thick does anyone have to be to still think that Obama is a democrat, a populist, a man of the people, an anti-war activist, or anything other than a whore to the military-industrial complex, the Wall St. Banking elite, and the global corporate empire? Please! This is getting rather tiring.

Nearly 60% of Americans now believe Obama should not be re-elected. Also fortunately, the majority of Americans have also lost faith in the Republican establishment as well. Fortunately, the Republican establishment destroyed its credibility with most Americans under the Bush
administration, and the Democratic (sic) establishment has destroyed its credibility with the majority of the people since taking power in Congress and the White House.

Fortunately, such wilful ignorance – of believing that either the Republicans or the Democrats are the saviours of the nation, or even the friends or allies of the people – is waning in the land. There are a few Democrats and Republicans with integrity, such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, but the two big party machines are, by all indications of an overwhelming body of evidence, bought and owned, and run by and for, the corporate elite. Of course there are rival factions among the ruling elite, but the fact is that they share a highly similar corporate agenda – “the vile maxim of the masters,” as Adam Smith called it: “all for us, none for anybody else.”

The hard reality in the United States today is that it is a one-party state: a corporatocracy run by the super-rich and the corporate and banking elite, with the nearly complete complicity and eager
servitude of both wings of the party of the corporate police state. The polls have been showing for some time that there is a deep and growing popular awareness of this fact. The crisis of legitimacy is now nearing critical mass, and will quite likely explode into revolution within a short period of time, as the CIA has also predicted.

Unfortunately, if it is a violent uprising, the ruling elite will use this as a justification for repression, and to dispense with every last remnant of democracy, freedom, human rights and civil liberties. If this happens, the Corporate Police State will have arrived in full, hideous flowering.

People are beginning to realize more and more that the corporatocracy rules both major political parties in the U.S. Real change will happen when more people drop the stunned state of denial, and face the undeniable and overwhelming evidence of this fact. When will this happen? Sooner
than one might think.

Let us hope that awareness grows quickly, the people unite in defence of their country and future against a very Machiavellian corporatist order, and the response of the people is along the lines of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, and not unthinking violent reaction.

The future is in our hands. Clarity of mind is the first step to securing a better future however. We must first know where we stand. The battle line is not between Republicans and Democrats, it is between those who value constitutional democracy, justice and freedom – true (small d, small r) democrats and republicans – and an entrenched and power hungry elite who wish for unchecked and unfettered power and hegemony over all. In short, the people must unite, or we are lost. Build bridges now, or kiss your country and your freedom goodbye.

J. Todd Ring,
June 10, 2011

Bernie Sanders: The backlash is on – surprise, surprise!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by jtoddring

Bernie Sanders was effectively silenced and blacked out of the media, by and large, for a long time, until he became too popular and too prominent to ignore. Now, the only candidate who is not a Wall Street hireling, hack or shill, the only candidate who is willing to take on the central problem of our society, which is its take-over by big business, has become prominent and powerful enough that the business elite and their loyal prostitutes in politics and the media are gunning for him. And of course, many among the bleating herd – including many seemingly intelligent commentators, pundits and members of the public – will simply believe anything they are told, and will trot along in obeisance to the growing propaganda/disinformation campaign that is being mounted against the only true progressive – or democrat, for that matter – in the US presidential race. But, fortunately, too many people have retained or recently rediscovered the lost art of thinking for oneself. Bernie will not be easy to defeat. In fact, he just might win.

Go Bernie.

J. Todd Ring,
January 26, 2016

Corporatism, capitalism and real alternatives: On the power to choose our destiny

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2014 by jtoddring

Corporatism is simply a more virulent form of capitalism – or a late stage of capitalism: it is what happens when capitalism is left unchecked, to run its own course. First comes the tendency towards ever-increasing concentrations of money, resources and economic power under a capitalist economy, as Marx rightly predicted; then comes crony capitalism, as politicians are corrupted by big money interests; then comes the merger of business and the state, which is corporatism, and which is the very definition of fascism, as Mussolini himself said, which is the final culmination of unchecked capitalism, as the business elite or oligarchs simply co-opt or take over the government and the state, turning the capitalist economy and nominally democratic societies into a neo-feudal order of brutal and anti-democratic, tyrannical oligarchy, or rule by the business elite.

This latter stage of capitalism, by the way, the merger of business and the state, or the birth of corporate fascism, is what we are now entering, and that will be our dreadful fate if we do not act to change it, and now.

In either case, it is fair to say that either capitalism or corporatism are bad ideas; and yes, there are not only theoretically possible alternatives, but proven alternatives that offer far better results in terms of human well-being, actual functioning democracy, economic prosperity and stability, real freedom, empowerment of the people, justice, equality, peace and environmental sanity.

One example is the Mondragon co-op, which is a network, federation, or co-op of co-ops, where the workers own the businesses directly – not the state, under the control of mandarins, bureaucrats or political elites, and not corporate oligarchs or shareholder elites, but the workers directly, at the local level – and where the workers elect their managers and directors at an annual general meeting, and decide democratically what will be produced and how, and where the profits and revenues will be allocated. It’s not a perfect system, but it is vastly superior by every reasonable standard or measure, to any form of capitalism or corporatism, and it is vastly superior to what we have now.

Is there an alternative to capitalism? Of course there is. In fact, there are a number of alternatives which are not only theoretically possible, but already proven. The Mondragon Co-op has proven one successful alternative to an economy and a society run essentially by and for the rich.

And as an aside, if anyone wants to know what left libertarianism, or libertarian socialism, means or might look like, here is one version or example of it – Mondragon. And it has not only worked, but thrived, for over fifty years now.

We do not have to be daft. We can simply lift our heads and look around. Yes, there alternatives. Are they perfect? Not likely. Are they better than the system or regime we currently live under? Unquestionably, and by a wide margin.

But before anyone gets their knickers in a knot because we have gone too far in challenging the ruling orthodoxy and presumptions of our time, let us say that we have perhaps gotten a bit ahead of ourselves in discussing alternatives to our currently reigning social order. The immediate challenge we face is the take-over by big business of politics, the global economy, the financial system, the media, and effectively, the world. You can be pro-capitalist if you like, although I would not recommend it; but if we are at all sane, if we have any idea as to what is going on, then we must, in all cases, oppose and resist and actively challenge the corporate take-over of human society.

Oligarchy is not freedom, and oligarchy is not democracy. The most immediate and urgent question facing human beings today, is whether we prefer freedom and democracy, or whether prefer rule by a global business elite, and a neo-feudal order. Everyone of sound mind should find this question easy to answer. The next question is, of course, what are we going to do about it.

The question is, whether we will drift along with the current trajectory, and be led, or rather, pushed and corralled, into a kind of neo-Dickensian, neo-feudal global corporatist order, where a handful of billionaires rule the world, the middle class is destroyed and liquidated, and the vast majority of the people are reduced to peasants, serfs or slaves, with a very bleak future in a very dark age; or whether the people will reclaim their power and change course, and make the world anew.

The power is in our hands to choose. But if we choose not to choose – that is, if the people continue to drift with the tide – then our choices will be made for us, and our future will be nothing short of a nightmare.

Stand now. The power is in our hands. And we most definitely do have alternatives to choose from. Only the ignorant and the deceitful will tell you otherwise.

J. Todd Ring,
April 29, 2014

– For more thoughts on this and other subjects, see my newly released book, Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium, available world-wide now on Amazon.com.

New studies show generosity and cooperation are both natural and intelligent

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2013 by jtoddring

A new study shows a mathematical proof that generosity leads to evolutionary success.

Generosity leads to evolutionary success

Biologists offer a mathematically based explanation for why cooperation and generosity have evolved in nature [Credit: Web]

“Ever since Darwin,” Plotkin said, “biologists have been puzzled about why there is so much apparent cooperation, and even flat-out generosity and altruism, in nature.”

“When people act generously they feel it is almost instinctual, and indeed a large literature in evolutionary psychology shows that people derive happiness from being generous,” Plotkin said. “It’s not just in humans. Of course social insects behave this way, but even bacteria and viruses share gene products and behave in ways that can’t be described as anything but generous.”

“We find that in evolution, a population that encourages cooperation does well,” Stewart said. “To maintain cooperation over the long term, it is best to be generous.”

The old notion of “survival of the fittest” – which was not an idea put forth by Darwin by the way, but was the work of Herbert Spencer, who distorted Darwin’s ideas to create the ideology of social Darwnism – has now been shown to be wrong.

The great Russian biologist Peter Kropotkin amassed a mountain of evidence to show that cooperation and mutual aid are every bit as normal, natural and common in nature as competition and aggression, in his monumental work, Mutual Aid – the most important work in biology since Darwin. Since then, the evidence has only grown more conclusive that cooperation, empathy, generosity, reciprocity and mutual aid are natural, and common in nature and in human nature. (See also, Rifkin, The Empathic Civilization; Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom; and Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self.)

 
In short, to love thy neighbour is not just virtuous and kind, it is the most intelligent thing to do. And what’s more, it is not at all utopian or wishful thinking to believe that a better world is possible.
 
The fact that a handful of egomaniacs and sociopaths have taken control of the world and are sowing extreme injustice, war, poverty, misery and ecological destruction, does not mean that this is the inevitable course for human beings or human society. We can and must change this. And the scientific evidence is showing that change – real change – is entirely in our power to create.
 
In fact, to overcome the worst aspects of human nature and create a society that is more just and more caring, would be to return more to our own true nature. Certainly greed, egotism, hatred and violence are no more natural than love, compassion, empathy and cooperation; and the science is showing that the latter are much more natural, and more pervasive in nature, as well as more evolutionarily intelligent and successful in the long run.
 
So yes, we can do better, and we can hope for better. And, as Arundhati Roy said, “A better world is not only possible – she is already being born.”
 
J. Todd Ring,
October 9, 2013

US government shutdown, and other fairy tales and examples of political theatre

Posted in American politics, analysis, banks, Barack Obama, Canada, Canadian politics, Chomsky, collapse, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, crisis of democracy, debt, deficit, democracy, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, far right, fascism, fascist, fiscal conservative, freedom, geopolitics, health care, imperialism, money, neo-feudalism, neocon, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, Obama, police state, policy, political economy, politics, propaganda, psychology, Republican, Republican Party, right, right wing, sociology, the right, truth, U.S., war, war on democracy, wellness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by jtoddring

I’m not sure what to make of the hoopla going on in the US right now. I’m inclined to think it’s all just political theatre, as Gerald Celente calls it, designed to distract the people from the real issues – the central one being, who controls the government and the nation? Wall Street, the big banks and largest corporations, or the people? After all, both of the major parties are controlled by the same six big banks, the private banking cartel which is the Fed, the military-industrial-security complex, Wall Street and the biggest 500 corporations on the planet, so what is this charade really about? As Celente said, it’s WWF – the World Wrestling Federation: it’s all scripted; it’s all political theatre. They all work for the same people.

Some Americans, mainly on the right, and mainly the rich, want to shrink government and abolish social programs that help and protect the poor, as well as the middle class – and half of Americans are now living below, at, or just above the poverty line, so that means 50% of the American people would get badly shafted, and far more would be badly hurt.

Some Americans – the overwhelming majority, well over 70% – favour public, universal health care, such as Canada, Britain, Europe and most of the civilized world has. But Obamacare is nothing of the sort. Obamacare is Romneycare – Obama simply took Romney’s package and made it his own. Obamacare, like Obama’s entire presidency, is designed to appease and sooth the masses and post-pone real political action, popular uprising or social unrest, while continuing the facilitation of the rape and pillage of the nation and the world by the largest corporations and the wealthiest 0.01%. What is amazing is that more people do not yet recognize these facts, although a great many, and a growing number do. The Obamacare package averts public, universal health care, which the people want, props up a crumbling private, massively subsidized for-profit health care system, and will put even more money into private, for-profit health insurance and health industry corporations, with dubious benefit to the people, if any. So the entire debate is dishonest to begin with, and radically out of joint with reality.

Furthermore, for those who want to cut government debt and spending, it should be noted, and made clear, that one of the best ways to do that, along with ending war and de-funding the massive military-industrial-security complex, the imperial storm troopers, the goon squads and the surveillance state, is to switch to a public health care system. (See Chomsky for a clear-headed and honest analysis of these points.)

The for-profit private health care system of the US has been shown repeatedly to cost far more than the public, not-for-profit health care systems of Canada, Britain and Europe. So once again, the debate is a farce; is filled with deceit; and again, radically out of sync with reality.

In the face of all of this, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I tend to worry greatly for the American people, as I do for human beings and all life on earth generally; but I trust they will resolve these problems. In the meantime, I pray, and will do all I can to seek out and share the best information and ideas I can find – from the left, right, centre, and anywhere I can find them.

Will the government shut down? Hardly likely, it seems to me. If it does, it will be disastrous for millions of people – even though the US government is the biggest criminal syndicate on the planet, next to the billionaire oligarchs who control it, along with virtually every other nation and government on earth. But a shutdown of the US government probably would not last long in any case, and the big bureaucratic machine of the state will restart again, if for no other reason, than because the people who control it – the super-rich, the corporate and banking elite, rely on it as a cash cow, a welfare state for the rich, a constant source of dizzying subsidies, bail-outs and forced wealth transfers from the people to the ruling plutocrats (they call it a “stimulus” package); and as a protective hired thug which can be, and is being used to keep an increasingly unruly rabble and frustrated populace subdued and under control, so that the great global looting spree can continue unabated.

The US government has handed the biggest banks and the global banking elite $14 trillion since the economic crisis of 2007-2008 erupted – enough to pay off the mortgages of every American, and every student debt and credit card debt, and all personal debts in the US, with approximately $13 trillion left to spare: which is enough to eliminate global poverty many times over, or, enough to eliminate global poverty, and create the global infrastructure for a truly sustainable society. Other corporate sectors are receiving smaller sums, in the range of a mere few tens or hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in regular subsidies, bail-outs and props. The six biggest banks now control a huge swath of the US economy, yet they are now fully dependent on on-going government subsidies just to survive. Their profits now are roughly equal to what they are receiving in regular government “stimulus” moneys, meaning, they would be forced out of business if they had to go without massive public funding from the government. This is to say nothing of the giant military-industrial-security and surveillance complex and its over $1 trillion annual cash flood coming from Washington and the Federal budget. Do we really believe that the same people who fund and control both of the two major parties want this gravy train to end? Think again. Not on your life.

No, the true rulers, the global business elite, need the US government, and will not let it be shutdown for long, if at all. So again, I am inclined to view all of this melodrama and hyperbole as so much theatre: bread and circuses, my friends, bread and circuses.

Keep the people divided – divide and conquer being rule number one for any good power-monger; and feed them bread and circuses to keep them distracted while their pockets are picked, and to keep their eyes diverted from the shackles and chains around their necks, wrists and legs. And sometimes, soap operas, sit-coms, “reality tv,” sports and celebrity gossip are not enough – political theatre is also needed; and so, it is provided.

The reality is, there are far too many pigs that are neck deep with their heads in the trough for the government to shut down for long. The ruling oligarchs simply won’t allow it, so let’s be real here, and keep such facts in mind while the hysteria mounts.

If the US government, or either of the major parties was truly interested in reducing the debt and deficit, then the on-going wars of empire would be ceased immediately and sworn off, all foreign US military bases would be closed, the military-industrial-security complex would be radically de-funded and the global surveillance and police state apparatus shut down, with savings of close to $1 trillion a year – which would mean that were is no more fiscal crisis.

If, in addition to this, universally accessible, publicly funded not-for-profit health care was brought in, further enormous cost savings would be made, and there would be a windfall of money available for real economic recovery, job creation, infrastructure and urgently needed environmental programs.

But none of this is on the agenda, none of this is even open to discussion, for the simple reason that the ruling class of plutocrats and corporate tsars and robber barons don’t want this, because that wouldn’t benefit them.

This is the real story; the rest, a mere charade.

J. Todd Ring,
September 30, 2013